Celebrating Holidays in the Montessori Classroom

“Adapt the classroom, not the schedule… “

Do Montessori schools celebrate Holidays? Yes! But our versions of celebration might be different from celebrations at other types of schools. In my classroom, I have always referred to the following rule of thumb: Adapt the classroom, not the schedule.

Halloween and other holidays often mean a change in your child’s routine and sleep schedule, extra excitement, and of course lots of treats. The Montessori classroom becomes a place of peace, where the young child’s internal sense of order may be preserved. The routine of the classroom work cycle is important to protect. Young children work best and learn more when they feel safe. An environment that includes routine and peace builds that sense of safety.

School communities include families with diverse beliefs, traditions, and celebrations. We do not assume that everyone in our community shares the same holidays or traditions. So when holidays are discussed in classrooms, we do it from the perspective of families and their culture. We talk about what children do at home during holidays: making and eating special foods; visiting with extended family; adding special decorations to the home; attending services at a place of worship; enjoying special music or games.

In the Montessori classroom we celebrate seasons and learn about some of the many the holidays that might accompany each season in our own cultures and throughout the world. We also bring the seasons into our studies of science, geography, history and art.  Below are a few examples of seasonal learning activities in the Montessori classroom.

Fall

Parts of the tree and life-cycle of a pumpkin activities

Winter

Watching an amaryllis grow from bulb to bloom while learning the parts of a flower

Measuring snow fall

Spring

Learning about the life cycle of birds and other animals born in the spring

Summer

Watching tiny caterpillars grow long and fat, build chrysalises and transform into butterflies as we study metamorphosis.

 

And of course we sing songs, read stories, learn poems and create art, using colors and images associated with each season.

“A sense of order, both in the physical environment and in the schedule is very, very important… It provides an important sense of security to know that the schedule will remain the same during the holidays, and there will be very little change in the environment. However, subtly and carefully adapting the environment to reflect holidays and nature in the changing seasons, rather than changing the schedule, is what we do…There will be plenty of emphasis on holidays OUTSIDE the classroom as each approaches. The Montessori classroom, and the unchanged daily schedule, is an oasis of security and peace during these times of the year.”  Susan Mayclin Stephenson from  Holiday Celebrations Montessori Style

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